Sunday, December 02, 2012

(272) Naval family interests at Scapa Flow

At 23:32 December 2nd 2012, I was at about 6:50 into this enormously long In Depth interview with Christopher Hitchens
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMbAEKhvDRg
I had never listened to it before although I had listened to many other Youtube clips with him.
I had just turned to Wikipedia to look up Scapa Flow. 
I was moved to do this - I had never consulted that Wikipedia page before - because he had just referred to his father being a career Naval Officer who had grown up in Portsmouth and gone straight from school into the Navy.
My maternal grandfather had also grown up in Portsmouth, where he was born, and gone straight from school into the Navy. He had served in both World Wars. I had heard from some family member that he was a signalman in the First and had re-enlisted after his desertion when the King issued a King´s Pardon for all deserted signalmen after the war had started, such was the demand for them.
Desertion was a capital offence and for some years grandad had been on the run going under an assumed name of ´Arthur Ingram´, which was actually that of one of his brothers.
I was moved to consider my mother´s father´s career in the Navy where, I understood, he had in fact mutinied just before the 1st World War at Scapa Flow.
I knew not enough about it and my mother had mentioned to me that he was not such a bad stick as the entire Navy had mutinied.
 
I think, some years earlier, I had half-heartedly looked up something somewhere about this mutiny.
So I typed Scapa Flow into Google and the Wikipedia page came up.
It was a page giving several entries under the umbrella heading of Scapa Flow, yet none was about the mutiny per se.
So I turned to the first one, this page - 
- even though it is not about the mutiny.
The Youtube clip then reached a point where Hitchens, who had just mentioned that his father had gone around the world was and that his mother was a Jewish immigrant was asked by interviewer Peter Slen where his parents had met.
He replied "In the Navy. She was a WREN. And they met, I think, in fact I´m sure, at Scapa Flow..."
...   ...   ...
To set matters straight, said mutiny was almost certainly the one in 1931 at Invergordon when 1,000 or so sailors mutined for a couple of days.
And all the stuff about desertion and King´s pardons sounds highly implausible...

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